LessThan3: It seems that in every record you produce there is always a story to tell. What were the feelings and concepts that went into producing your recent album Bespoke?
Alfred: Music always carries a message, or is speaking to an audience, even if it’s only indirectly. I try to take responsibility for what my music might be saying, but it is a hopeless endeavor; you just can’t know entirely what people will get out of it or even how they listen. All that being said, Bespoke is a record about speaking clearly but not in words. The whole LP makes references to fashion and adornment, which says so much about the wearer, or the intention. The record was going for understated and serene at times, and low-down and dirty at others. But this is all my own muddled view. Albums don’t live in my hands; they hopefully are resurrected by others and they’ll get what they get no matter what my intention was.
LessThan3: If you could have personally lived through any one event in history, which would it be?
Alfred: I’m into my history. I’m quite a buff for the Victorian; even bits of the 1920s sound amazing in hindsight. But by no means can I confuse the times that were and are now. We live in the most fantastic age ever known, and my musical existence is certainly only possible in a now. So as much as looking back might bring inspiration and bits of enlightenment, I’ll have to go with the current messed up mix-up.
LessThan3: How have you evolved as artist over the years with the advent of new technologies?
I came to a conclusion a while back that the spark that created hip hop was creative producers meeting up with incredibly innovative technologies. Like when Afrika Bambaataa used the drum machines and synths from Kraftwerk
to make a new combination, or the Bomb Squad were allowed a few more precious seconds of samples from their Akai S-900 to make the urgent sounds you heard for Public Enemy and others. Technology is part of moving sound forward and making our current sound unlike anything that has come before. My at-home production and live music making is constantly evolving by leaps and bounds. I try to keep my ear to the ground as to what is happening out there, but it is all happily overwhelming.
LessThan3: Your instrument of choice is the Monome. Why that one?
Alfred: Before the Monome, there weren’t many ways to work with samples in a live context. You could either pre-make every mix and fake your way through, or move sound backward or forward. The Monome has unlocked doors in that direction, and now a whole host of products have come along that do some of the same. I believe the Monome stands alone in the elegance by which it manipulates sound.
LessThan3: Your live sets always differ from show to show. How do you prepare for them? What inspires during your LIVE sets?
Alfred: Thank you for being there for a few shows! It is always different because of context and most importantly audience. Ask any real musician and they will tell you the audience is what they are there for. It is an honor to perform on any stage. I spent years in the audience trying to understand sound and understand how I could be up there myself, so now having the chance is fantastic and I don’t take it lightly. I try and study the audience figure out where they want to go, be it because of a particularly good dancer in the front or a vocal fan.
LessThan3: You have had several releases on various labels. Do you alter your sound for different platforms or is it normally the case that the labels are happy to release whatever sound is you are creating at the time?
Every situation is different, both from a performing perspective and a releasing perspective. Every label is like a family with it’s own politics and schedules, and like it or not, it all factors into the sound you’ll be releasing. Ninja Tune
(my current home for LPs) is London-based and dance-centric (although a very different definition of dance than US labels), while a label like Brainfeeder
based in Los Angeles and founded by Flying Lotus
wanted productions of a more esoteric blend. I’m happy to have the chance to express a wide range of sounds. I really feel like listeners out there are interested in a wide assortment; look at any iPod and you’ll see a crazy variety nowadays in most.
LessThan3: 2011 has been an incredible year for you, touring all around the world, and shows at some of the biggest music festivals in the states. To this point, what has been the biggest moment of your career?
at midnight was incredible, as was Lollapalooza this year in front of 10K+ people, but those are different sensations. The moments that really have defined me were ages ago in front of maybe 60 people at the second or third Low End Theory
or the first overseas touring I did pre-Monome with a band that included Busdriver, my wife, Ben Wendel of Kneebody, and a death-metal drummer named David Murray. Those were quiet but big moment moments in my musical life.
LessThan3: I’ve heard you’re a Nintendo kid at heart. Was the 8-bit sound the origin of your musical influence?
Alfred: Yes, the Nintendo and what was to follow–SNES and onward. The sounds made an impact, but I’d say the button-mashing even moreso. Take a game like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. You couldn’t just press the buttons at a whim; you had to press just right to find the weakness in the opponent. I live that same life in every production, every live show–the right button at the right time.
LessThan3: What are your thoughts of the rapid growth of EDM all around the world? Do you consider yourself a pioneer of the scene?
I’m not sure of any pioneering status, but I’ve been privy to some amazing moments like hosting the event that had Flying Lotus’ first live show or having Jason Chung debut his Nosaj Thing
show at a night I was co-producing with Daddy Kev. There are others I find myself amazed to be a part of, but I am just a part of larger, beautiful changes in the music world.
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Alfred: Electronic Romantic–I’m taking the “less than 3″ seriously!